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Survey: 70% of Dry Cleaners Dish Up Discounts as Part of Marketing Strategy

CHICAGO — Almost 36% of dry cleaners are utilizing coupons “often” as part of their marketing strategy, according to results from this month’s American Drycleaner Your Views survey.

On the flip side, 30.1% of those surveyed say they do not use coupons at all as part of their marketing strategy, while 23.7% say they only use them “on occasion.” Roughly 11% distribute coupons “every few months.”

Direct mail is the most popular way dry cleaners distribute coupons (61.2%), while some utilize the Internet through social media (41.8%); in-house e-mail (35.8%); or through e-mail services such as Groupon (13.4%). Some dry cleaners have taken the traditional approach by distributing coupons through the newspaper (19.4%), while some utilize other forms of distribution (25.4%), like door hangers, or featuring their coupons on grocery store receipts.

Many dry cleaners are sticking to the direct mail approach when it comes to distributing coupons in the next year (55.2%), while some are looking to try social media (52.2%); in-house e-mail (47.8%); newspaper (17.9%); and e-mail services (10.4%). Some are looking to try other ways (25.4%) to send out their deals to customers, such as advertising in the phone book or posting coupons on car windows.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being most effective, a slim majority of dry cleaners (18.4%) gave themselves a 7 regarding the effectiveness of their coupon offers in generating new business. Other respondents graded their new-business coupon efforts as 3 (14.3%), 5 (13.2%), 1 (11.8%), 2 (11.8%), 8 (10.5%), 4 (6.6%), 10 (6.6%), 6 (5.3%), or 9 (1.3%).

Using the same rating scale, a slim majority of dry cleaners (17.1%) gave their coupon offers an effectiveness rating of 7 in terms of driving repeat business. Other respondents graded their repeat-business coupon efforts as 8 (14.3%), 1 (10.5%), 3 (10.5%), 9 (10.5%), 5 (9.1%), 2 (6.6%), 4 (6.6%), 6 (6.6%) or 10 (7.8%).

“In this economy, repeat business is based on quality and customer service, not cheap discounts,” says one dry cleaner regarding coupons. “They only appeal to customers who hop from deal to deal [and] never stay for quality or service.”

“I absolutely hate coupons,” says another. “I do not like to discount what I do, however they have been used so prolifically in our industry that they are necessary. My father once told me to always work for full price or free, but never for cheap.”

Another cleaner added, “If you have to discount your work to get business, you’re not doing a good enough job.”

While American Drycleaner’s Your Views survey presents a snapshot of the trade audience’s viewpoints, it should not be considered scientific. Subscribers to American Drycleaner e-mails are invited each month to participate in a brief industry survey they can complete anonymously.

The entire American Drycleaner audience is encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define owner/operator opinions and industry trends.

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Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].